Washington: Republican lawmakers have reacted furiously to news that President Barack Obama plans to transfer a number of Guantanamo Bay detainees to a rural Illinois prison.
The administration announced the decision Tuesday in a letter that said the federal government would acquire the Thomson Correctional Center from the US state of Illinois.
The move comes as Obama tries to make good on a promise to shutter the controversial detention camp for terror suspects, but it outraged Republican lawmakers.
"By moving known terrorists to American soil, the Obama administration is putting international public relations ahead of public safety," said Indiana Representative Mike Pence. Facts: Closing Guantanamo: a numbers game
"How does closing Guantanamo Bay make us safer? How does moving over 70 known terrorists, to a facility in my beloved heartland of this country, make our families more safe? And how does it even make sense?"
Republican House minority leader John Boehner said he would "not vote to spend one dime to move those prisoners to the United States."
Even Republican senators who have expressed support for closing the facility located on a US naval base on Cuba expressed reservations.
"I fear the administration has lost its bearings in an effort to close Guantanamo as quickly as possible," said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham in a statement.
The White House seemed aware of the likely reaction to its decision Tuesday, and the letter signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates emphasized that detainees would only be brought to the United States for detention.
"The president has no intention of releasing any detainees in the United States," they said, adding that such a move is barred under current US legislation.
It was not immediately clear how many of the 210 men still held at Guantanamo would be transferred to the Thomson jail in Carroll County, Illinois, where they will be kept in a separate part of the prison from other prisoners.
Gates has said 116 Guantanamo detainees will be freed or extradited to their countries of origin.
That leaves less than 100 men, including some who will be tried before military or civilian courts, and others who will be detained indefinitely because they are considered too dangerous to release but cannot be tried because evidence against them is scant or tainted.